Necrophobic have a strong Dissection influence that they carry on their sleeves and put at the forefront of their music. This is still a very unique recording with a one of a kind sound, however. The music is mostly black metal in nature, but carries forth the strong vibes from other genres like death metal as well. There is a very impassioned stance that the band takes and makes for a fiery listen.
The guitar riffs are scathing and powerful and resonate strongly through the listening experience. On top of this are spiteful vocals that nicely fit upon the top of the music and provide a Dissection like aura to the band. In fact, this music is very similar to that outfit, but perhaps takes on a bit more of a death metal feel to it. I believe this album is better than the similar Watain release from this year and maintains a greater atmosphere than that band does. It requires a very silent room to hear the splendid nuances this release has and this is the setting that should be used for Mark of the Necrogram. This is still not a perfect release. Since it sounds so similar to the band mentioned and also Hyperion’s 2016 release Seraphical Eupnony, there needs to be something original to separate this band from those acts. There is nothing groundbreaking here and this only sounds like another good album from the style, but nothing greater than that.
It’s still a very powerful experience, but it lacks the extra little something that would make it even greater. Still, this is a highlight from early in the year and should be heard by both likers of black metal and death metal. It gets a moderate recommendation from me and a plug to check out the work of Dissection and Hyperion.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
MetalBite Review by Felix on 3/17/2019 8:44:40 PM
From my point of view, many bands have the potential to release a perfect album. Sodom, Desaster, Marduk, Onslaught, Terrifier, to name but a few. But only a few numbers of groups really has published a 100% work. Necrophobic's Death to Allfrom 2009 left absolutely no room for improvement and this ingenious output became a burden for the successor. Womb of Lilithu did not have the strength to challenge Death to All and revealed previously unknown weaknesses. Instead of recording another compact 10-track-album, the Swedes filled the output to the brim with 14 songs. Mark of the Necrogram gets back to the less opulent configuration and the impressive artwork whets the appetite additionally. The battle for the throne of Swedish black metal - one of the most beautiful thrones worldwide - can begin anew and Necrophobic know that their blood-thirsty enemies (Marduk, Dark Funeral, maybe Watain) have sharpened their weapons.
It is surely an irrational emotion in view of the quite unstable line-up of the band, but since their debut, I have the feeling that Necrophobic are one of the five or ten musically most competent organizations on the entire globe. Their signature riffs always combine darkness and melody in such a perfect manner - if they would paint a picture in this immaculate way, I could not believe my eyes. For sure, Mark of the Necrogram does not add a new dimension to their sound and the apostles of progress can scream "stagnation" (without realizing that they only stigmatise themselves in view of their pathological desire for constantly new approaches). Even if their criticism were correct, I would like to add that stagnation is much better than deformation. This applies all the more with regard to the extremely high level of Necrophobic's art. Their material does not need faecal, childish or anti-musical elements in order to have a fascinating effect. The compositions possess the unfathomable depth which made the classics of Dissection, for example "Black Horizons" or "Unhallowed", to something very special. Expressed differently, their smooth flow does not affect the degree of evilness. The omnipresent demonic aura lends the album its homogeneity and the maturity of the compositions is, as always, almost second to none.
The unbelievably fantastic "Sacrosanct" marks one of the fastest tracks and its fiery intensity depicts the heat of the artwork. Its natural flow would be remarkable for any other band, but for Necrophobic, it is just a matter of course. High speed verses and the flattening mid-tempo part after the first chorus stand shoulder to shoulder and, by the way, the scary chorus comes directly out of the lungs of hell. The comeback performance of lead vocalist Anders Strokirk is on a par with that of the criminal idiot who had to leave the group after the last record. There is no need for a "the original voice is back" celebration, but Strokirk's voice matches the dark undertone of Mark of the Necrogram perfectly. Without delivering extreme screams, his contribution increases the level of malignancy. And this is by no means self-evident, because the quality of the material makes high demands on the lead singer. Just listen to "Pesta", the teaser of the full-length. It represents another monument with high speed parts and a driving double bass, but it also holds an almost ritualistic part and a surprisingly melodic solo. Necrophobic do not need very unconventional song patterns, they are able to fill the more or less conservative structures with absolutely exciting content. Some new compositions even border on the ingenious insanity of Revelation 666. Without doubt, many songs are absolutely divine. Or completely Satanic? Feel free to make your choice while listening to demonic masterpieces like "Crown of Horns". It is amazing: the songs are never drastic, radical or disharmonic, but they create a very dark aura.
The production? Have you really ever had the absurd thought that these lords of the eclipse would release an album with a flawed sound? Rhetorical question, of course not. The warm, vigorous, dense and familiar mix has become an identity creating element of Necrophobic. With all due respect for the achievements of the fanatic legions of the underground, I must admit that exactly the sound of the Scandinavians leads the listener right into the burning pits of hell. Frankly spoken, I guess you will not be surprised that these experienced dudes have a clear vision how their material must be portrayed. Maturity is everywhere in the cosmos of Necrophobic, but this does not mean that routine has killed the creativity of the band members. Especially Sebastian Ramstedt must be mentioned, because he has written roughly 80% of the material - and there is absolutely no stinker to identify, although the calm outro cannot play with the big boys of the album.
After sinister pieces such as the orientation giving title track, the devastating "Odium Caecum" and the beseeching "Lamashtu", "From the Great Above to the Great Below" invites the listener for the last time to be engulfed by a dark maelstrom. Just like the sweetest girl I know, Necrophobic's art has a mind-blowing and magical component at the same time. Especially the mixture of the melodic guitar leads, and the highly explosive speed parts is excellent, even though the mighty drumming also plays a prominent role. The only regular track that does not surpass a solid level is "Tsar Bomba". It lacks intensity, but this remains a bearable exception, because this is still a good track. So, who is now sitting on the throne of Swedish black metal? I am sorry to inform you that fire and smoke have taken my sight. Not to mention Marduk's "Nebelwerfer"; the arsenal of Morgan seems to be inexhaustible. Anyway, I can assure you that every army uses its weapons cleverly. This is a very intensive battle - and Necrophobic have good prospects to succeed.